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  • Last modified 279 days ago (Aug. 23, 2023)

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Burns ex-chief faces 13
child exploitation charges

Staff writer

A Butler County jailer who resigned as Burns police chief eight days earlier was charged Aug. 16 in Butler County District Court with 13 counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

According to the complaint filed against Joel Justice Womochil, 38, El Dorado, he had 13 brief videos on his computer that showed children who appeared to be younger than 10 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

He was booked into the Sedgwick County jail Aug. 15. On the same day Womochil was charged, a court order was issued to surrender his firearms to El Dorado police. He was taken to Sedgwick County jail, where he was held in lieu of $100,000 surety bond.

Womochil, a Marion County deputy from March 2020 until November 2022, resigned Aug. 8 as police chief for Burns. The complaint shows that he was in possession of the videos from Aug. 9 to Aug. 16.

Undersheriff Daimon Cundiff said Womochil initially was put on paid administrative leave, but subsequently was fired.

El Dorado police department, where Womochil’s girlfriend works, is the lead investigating agency in the case. Police chief Mike Holton told KSNW that the investigation is still preliminary. The girlfriend, Kaitlin Brunner, is listed as a witness in the case against Womochil.

Brunner is a former Peabody police officer who resigned in November 2022 after Peabody’s mayor told former chief Bruce Burke to clean up drug houses no matter whether the means were legal or illegal.

“I find it necessary to step down at this juncture,” Womochil wrote in a resignation letter he handed to Burns city council members Aug. 8 and read aloud. “Recent events have made me reflect on my responsibilities as a leader and the impact my decisions have on the lives of others.”

Last modified Aug. 23, 2023

 

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